Amber Hull, English teacher at High School South, submitted a proposal for and was accepted to present this year at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention. Ms. Hull will be leading a 30-minute focus session for a national audience of English teachers about the trepidation educators have when faced with change. She will travel to Houston, TX in November to present on the topic.
Ms. Hull is a member of a few professional communities that led her to this opportunity. She belongs to and follows NCTE's CEL (Conference on English Leadership) on Twitter and attended ECET2NJPA (New Jersey and Pennsylvania Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers) where teachers gathered to learn from one another and celebrate their profession. At the conference and online, she began to connect with fellow educators, experts, and professionals who were advocating for changes in education.
"As a teacher who believes that 'industrial education' is outdated and ineffective, and who teaches in a LATI (learner-active technology-infused) classroom, I found myself conversing with these professionals often," said Ms. Hull. "It was during one of these conversations that I received an invitation to apply to present at the convention."
Since she believes strongly that "change is on the horizon" in education, she is hopeful that starting a discussion about the fears educators have when faced with change and how they can incorporate smaller transitions into their classrooms without a complete overhaul is important.
"Mrs. Hull is a highly reflective educator who understands the importance of shifting instruction toward active learning so students are ready for whatever their futures hold," said Tonya Rivera, the district's high school English supervisor.
Over the past couple of years, the district has embraced the concept of a LATI classroom and has offered professional development seminars and training to administrators and teachers on the principles behind the concept. Norma DeNoia, director of curriculum 6-12, has been the driving force behind this concept coming to life in the Toms River Regional Schools.
Ms. DeNoia has advocated for teachers to turnkey concepts of LATIC to fellow colleagues such as encouraging movement in the classroom, student voice and choice, more efficient co-planning, higher levels of student engagement, and the development of critical problem solving skills.
According to Ms. Rivera, Amber Hull's classroom is a perfect example of these practices coming to life.
"Mrs. Hull's LATI classroom is a place where students are inspired by authentic problems and are empowered to make choices about what they do in the classroom as well as how they do it," said Rivera. "[She] understands the importance of curriculum that is not only flexible but inclusive; and this is reflected in the work she does with students--often inspiring her students to take their learning into our communities. Mrs. Hull's classroom is a place where students get excited and invested in their learning."
Ms. Hull has created a community of colleagues within Toms River Schools she feels are inspirational and who also embrace her same educational philosophy. She feels it is very important to have a system of discussion partners and fellow innovators to bounce ideas off of and provide support to each other.
"I would be nowhere without my discussion partners, fellow innovators, and best teaching buddies," she said. "I also want to thank my supervisor, Tonya Rivera, and Tiffany Lucey the district's supervisor of educational technology. Every single one of these women are educational revolutionaries!"
Amber Hull has been an English teacher for the past 19 years. She taught at Southern Regional High School for 11 years before being hired in Toms River. Since she started in Toms River, she has taught at Intermediate East, High School North, and now, High School South.